Beverly Johnson: I Was the First Model of Color to Do a Vogue Cover—but Didn’t Have Enough Bread to Buy the Mag!

CAPTION: Beverly: Good genes. Empty jeans.

Beverly: She's got the genes. It was her jeans that lacked.

It’s been exactly 35 years since Beverly Johnson made history as the first African American woman to grace the cover of Vogue.

Still, she recalls that moment like it was yesterday—particularly the part about not being able to pay for her own ravishing image.

“It’s as exciting today as it was then. And that most certainly has to be—after the birth of my daughter— one of the most exciting things that has ever happened to me,” Beverly, now 56, tells Mutha Knows host Mutha.

“I get goose bumps thinking about just how excited I was.

“Because I knew at that time that’s where you wanted to be as a model—you wanted to be on the cover of Vogue magazine.

“And when they said I had that cover, oh my god! I was in bed, I threw my jeans on, I ran down to the little magazine shop on the street, and there I was,” continues Beverly, who’s currently a judge on the TV Land reality series She’s Got the Look.

“And then, finally, everybody’s waiting in line with their coffee and bagel—you know in New York—waiting to get their newspaper.

CAPTION: The celebrated cover.

The celebrated cover.

“And I’m like, ‘Hurry up! Hurry up!’

“And I get there, and I don’t have any money.

“And so I tell the guy behind the newsstand, ‘This is me on the cover.’

“He said, ‘Yea, right. If this was you on the cover, you’d be able to afford the magazine.'”

To hear Beverly’s full interview, including how she wound up paying for the mag, click here.

2 thoughts on “Beverly Johnson: I Was the First Model of Color to Do a Vogue Cover—but Didn’t Have Enough Bread to Buy the Mag!

  1. Steve Williams

    Hello young lady! I have been trying hard to get in touch with you. and part of your family. Do you still keep in touch with Dotta or any Northland folks? I live in Georgia now but still go back and forth to Buffalo when I can find time. If you’re having trouble remembering me, think of me waking you up when you had your first born in New York. Teds hot dogs near the Peace Bridge. E-mail me and I’ll send pics. Steve ( Lively) Williams

  2. Linda Pandolfi Hendershot

    Hey Beverly! Remember when you and I were in Mrs. Plew’s 6th grade class, servin graham crackers & milk and dreaming of the day we would become models? Congratulations on your fabulous achievement and lifetime career! I would love to see you again. xo Linda Pandolfi


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